Reading Rich Hawkins’ novella, Black Star, Black Sun, is a bit like waking up and finding the world has already been consumed by fire, and the final embers are burning the ashen remains. It is a fearless journey into an abyss of despair.
Why would anyone want to read that? Because it’s hauntingly beautiful.
We begin with Ben Ottway returning to his hometown, a small village in England, after the mysterious disappearance of his wife, but this is no thriller with plot twists you can see coming a mile away or that are surprising because they’re utter nonsense. Ben’s wife is gone, and the point is his world has ended, yet he fights it and remains hopeful.
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I’ve never been so afraid to feel at home.
As I walked among the cosplayers dressed as slasher idols and evil deadites, the people wearing death metal or obscure B-horror t-shirts, one thought kept going through my mind: These are my people.
For all of the fascination with murder and the macabre and the gore make-up, I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a place where there was more kinship and acceptance, where it didn’t matter who or what you were, just that you shared similar passions. Everyone had come for a single, unified purpose: to have a great time.
Continue reading “Scared for Life: Texas Frightmare Weekend”
This weekend, I was at the International Day of the Book Festival in Kensington, Maryland, a small town just outside of Washington, D.C.
Kensington is on one of D.C.’s major commuter routes, Connecticut Avenue, but most people who have ever driven through it have probably never turned onto Howard Avenue through Kensington’s historic district. It’s relatively small, but its finely aged buildings set across from landmark train tracks make for an interesting stroll into one of the D.C. area’s time-locked places. Many of them have been swept away in the name of progress.
Leading up to the festival, the weather forecast was rain. Since the festival was to be hosted outside, that would have been a problem. Fortunately, the rain hurried along and came through the night before, and the weather couldn’t have been better.
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It’s been almost a month since I put The King of Clayfield by Shane Gregory down, and it’s lingered with me all this time. I don’t attribute its staying power to any raw emotional experience I had with it, nor do I find its relentless grip in any particular shock or horror. The King of Clayfield sticks with me to this day because I’ve yet to be able to truly pin it down. Certain stories fall clearly within a genre, adhering to established guidelines and rules. The King of Clayfield is somewhat unique in that it flows naturally, as if it were grounded in reality instead of someone’s imagination.
Of course, The King of Clayfield has many imaginative and creative elements, but while it isn’t strictly an epistolary, it reads almost like a journal. Shane’s prose is no-nonsense, written in natural language. At times, it may be reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy. He steps out of the way and lets his character tell the story. What’s notable here is that, in my experience with first-person narratives, I’ve found many writers tend to overdo this. They adopt certain tendencies to attempt to force the voice through. Shane doesn’t. The difference is he seems to trust his story and his characters to be interesting rather than trying to make or contrive intrigue. The aspect that interests me the most, though, is that The King of Clayfield is almost formless in its presentation. It is anything but formulaic, but it isn’t without structure or deliberate momentum. It doesn’t lull, but it doesn’t force action. It doesn’t adhere to the typical “three rising actions, climax, resolution,” but it follows a logical pattern of building tension to a powerful and satisfying conclusion.
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Amid personal distractions, big events, work, and other happenings, I didn’t get to read as much in 2014 as I would have liked. But I did read some really good books that I connected with in ways that either surprised me or continue to affect me. Please note, I read some really good stuff this year, and these are just the books that struck a personal nerve.
Without further ado, here are my favorite novels that I read in 2014.
Continue reading “My Favorite Books of 2014”
When I picked up Autumn Moon by Slade Grayson, I was excited because I couldn’t remember the last time I had read a werewolf novel that I enjoyed. Autumn Moon is enjoyable, satisfying, and so much more. It contains a world full of almost-magical intrigue and allure and a narrative that keeps moving logically and naturally to a fulfilling conclusion.
I think the thing I appreciated most about Autumn Moon is it seems self-aware. I’ve come to this novel with the knowledge that it will contain werewolves, and Slade never is coy with that idea. It might seem disingenuous to treat the revelation of the shapeshifters as some great mystery, and while there is a moderate surprise, it isn’t overdone. Mainly, it seems to be for the characters’ benefit, not for ours, a case of dramatic irony that is handled expertly.
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I’m a guy who lives on the little things. I have a brief conversation with someone, and it sparks an idea. From there, it marinates in my brain until it becomes a thought. Most times, when someone gives me even a minute of their time to have a discussion, it’s an interaction that divides and multiplies until it’s something much bigger than it actually was, for better or for worse.
By this, I mean to say, if you’ve played even a small part in my life, you mean more to me than you know. (Unless you were a jerk.)
Continue reading “The Best Thing About My Newfound Authorship”
Over at paulsemel.com, Media Journalist Paul Semel interviewed me about Carrier and some other stuff. Paul asked some really good questions, and some of them were pretty tough. This whole interview thing is new to me, but it’s interesting how curious people asking questions gets me to think about things I never thought about (at least consciously) or even thought about needing to answer. Anyway, check it out if you haven’t already.
I would be remiss if I failed to post here on the day that I evolved from normal human into radiating beacon of literary authority and genius, but seeing as how all that happened today was my first novel hit Amazon, I wasn’t sure if anything needed to be said.
The spirit of jest and humility aside, I’m very excited a piece of my work that I legitimately poured my love into is finally out there and ready for you to read. Be gentle. Don’t stare. Don’t say things like, “I just want to talk,” when it’s clear you want more. Be honest with her, and she will take control. It’s what she does. Just open your mind and let her slip inside. The sharp pains are her hooks. She’s going to be in there a while. Continue reading “The Journey Begins”
When I finished Deep Black Sea, I found myself dwelling on its strengths. Of course, not many works are without faults, but there are some really powerful elements here that I found creative, interesting, and entertaining.
One of Deep Black Sea’s greatest strengths is its foundation of plausibility. In a nutshell, the United States elects a new president who effectively guts NASA’s funding for a mission to Mars in favor of pursuing deep-water research. While such a broad and far-reaching decree in a democratic society is unlikely, it isn’t an unfamiliar point of consternation in the scientific community: the idea that we should understand our own planet before we explore others, and we still know so little about life at the bottom of the ocean.
Continue reading “Deep Black Sea by David M. Salkin”